From Energy Efficiency to Repairs, the Differences Between Window and Central Air Conditioners

The summer heat is impossible to ignore, especially when you factor in the humidity that comes with it. When the hotter months come around, you’ll suddenly find yourself feeling sticky with sweat, favoring loose-fitting clothes that leave your arms and legs bare, and closing all your blinds with the fan on to try and get as much shade and cool air as possible. This is the moment when you realize it’s time to invest in an AC unit—but should you get a central air conditioner, or a window unit?

Window Units

A window AC unit is a small metal box containing a condenser, an evaporator, and several fans. It sucks air in from outside, cools and dehumidifies it, and then transfers it into the room it’s installed it. For people who live in apartment buildings this is often the only feasible choice, since they don’t have the ability to connect a central unit to their ductwork. However, finding a unit that fits the exact dimensions of your windows can be difficult, and installing one that does not fit properly can be even more difficult—not to mention less secure, letting air out and creating a potential hazard if not done correctly. Still, window AC remains the primary choice for small apartments.

Central Air Conditioners

For cooling and dehumidifying a large home, you want to stick to central air. A window unit will typically only cool a single room effectively, and running units is creating a much more complicated system than is needed. With a central AC, you can use your home’s pre-existing ventilation infrastructure to provide cool air to your entire home at once, with a better energy-efficiency rating by far. Central units are also quieter, create a more even temperature, and many newer models are programmable—you can set them to automatically turn off when you’re not home, conserving energy and saving money.

Window vs Central: Air Conditioner Repair and Maintenance

Another point for window units is that a lot of the maintenance—and even some of the repairs, if you know what you’re doing—can be done by the owner. However, smaller consumer units are not always built to the same standard of quality, and may have a shorter lifespan overall, regardless of your maintenance efforts. Central air conditioner repairs will be more expensive because you will usually need to call a professional, but alternatively, this offers two benefits: protecting a long-term investment, and assurance that maintenance is carried out properly and effectively. Always contact a licensed professional rather than attempting a central air conditioner repair yourself, or any warranty may be void.

Don’t let next summer’s heat catch you off guard. By investing in a central air conditioner, you’ll be ready for a cool and comfortable summer!